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Steelers Versus Patriots & YAC


The New England Patriots head into the Sunday game against the Steelers with a league best 350.5 passing yards a game average and they are tied for second in the league with a 9.1 yards per attempt. Lost in all of those great stats are the yards after the catch that the Patriots have racked up in 6 games this season.

Of the 2,163 passing yards that quarterback Tom Brady has amassed this year, 993 have come after the catch. This is 46% of his passing yards this season. Leading the way of course in YAC for the Patriots is Wes Welker. Welker leads the NFL through week 7 with 392 yards after the catch and has only played 6 games. That is right at 50% of his 785 receiving yards this year and 18% of the Brady passing yards. Pretty amazing.

Welker is not the only YAC warrior for the Patriots as tight end Rob Gronkowski is 15th in the league with 210 yards after the catch. That is a whopping 52% of his 401 receiving yards. Combine Welker and Gronkowski together and they have 602 yards after the catch, or 28% of the Brady passing yards. I am not going to break down his numbers, but Deion Branch is also in the top 25 as far as YAC goes.

Brady is not going deep to his receivers either for the most part as 153 of 160 of his completions have flown 20 yards or less in the air according to the espn.com stats. 1,091 of Brady\’s 2,163 passing yards, the ball has only flown 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He has just over a 75% completion ratio on these short passes in addition. Brady has only thrown a ball 21 yards or more just 22 times this season and completed just 7 of them. 6 of those 7 were in the 21-30 yard range.

As impressive as the Patriots offensive YAC has been, the defense has certainly given up its share of it. 890 of the 1990 passing yards allowed by their defense have come after the catch. That\’s 45% of the yards allowed through the air and ranks 31st in the league in YAC allowed. Only the Raiders are worse as they have allowed 42 more yards after the catch.

What about the Steelers and YAC? You would think it would be high based on the 1,985 passing yards, but in fact they only have 619 yards after the catch for a league low 31% of all passing yards. This is pretty much due to the deep balls to Mike Wallace, as he just does not have much YAC on the table to get on the deep touchdowns or he is tackled right after making the long catch. Of his 730 receiving yards, only 172 of them have come after the catch. That is just 24% of his total receiving yards, but Wallace still ranks 23rd in the league in YAC just the same.

Unlike Brady, only 63% of the Ben Roethlisberger passing yards have come on passes thrown 20 yards or less. 88% of Brady\’s passing yards originate on passes 20 yards or less. To make a long point, short, the Steelers YAC is lost in the air. Literally.

Defensively the Steelers have been good at wrapping receivers up after the catch, a signature trademark of a Dick LeBeau defense. Through 7 games the Steelers have allowed just 481 yards after the catch on 128 receptions. That works out to just 3.8 YAC per catch average and 3rd best in the league as far as that stat goes. Only 37% of all passing yards allowed have come after the catch. That is pretty damn good.

In closing, this game will not boil down to YAC alone, but it will be something to look at after the game. The Steelers will not shut down Brady, Welker and Gronkowski completely, but it will go a long way if they can wrap the Patriots receivers up quickly as they have done throughout the season against their opponents. The Patriots defense is vulnerable through the air as I have shown in this post and the previous one. Any extra YAC they can get against a Patriots defense, that does not tackle well will make the field even shorter for Roethlisberger and the offense.

It is not all about the YAC, but YAC does matter. Unless it is lost in the air like it is with the Steelers.

Enjoy the stats below.

Offensive Passing Stats Through Week 7
TEAM CMP ATT YDS AVG TD LNG 20+ YDS/GM YAC YAC/CMP % YAC
Bills 134 203 1477 11 12 60 16 246.2 782 5.8 53%
Chargers 141 218 1715 12.2 7 55 24 285.8 879 6.2 51%
Cowboys 146 227 1843 12.6 11 77 30 307.2 906 6.2 49%
Jaguars 92 186 1044 11.3 4 74 13 149.1 480 5.2 46%
Patriots 160 237 2163 13.5 16 99 32 360.5 993 6.2 46%
49ers 103 161 1125 10.9 8 44 17 187.5 510 5.0 45%
Lions 163 270 1940 11.9 16 73 25 277.1 875 5.4 45%
Colts 116 222 1389 12 7 87 17 198.4 626 5.4 45%
Titans 132 213 1530 11.6 10 80 16 255.0 686 5.2 45%
Browns 141 252 1377 9.8 8 56 8 229.5 601 4.3 44%
Ravens 110 211 1415 12.9 8 74 17 235.8 612 5.6 43%
Bengals 123 201 1403 11.4 8 84 20 233.8 597 4.9 43%
Buccaneers 168 276 1737 10.3 7 65 13 248.1 734 4.4 42%
Bears 137 232 1702 12.4 9 56 22 243.1 717 5.2 42%
Giants 125 196 1778 14.2 11 74 27 296.3 748 6.0 42%
Packers 171 240 2372 13.9 20 93 27 338.9 978 5.7 41%
Raiders 124 215 1482 12 7 58 22 211.7 611 4.9 41%
Texans 137 224 1893 13.8 12 78 31 270.4 760 5.5 40%
Falcons 154 253 1683 10.9 9 49 17 240.4 671 4.4 40%
Eagles 134 217 1680 12.5 9 61 25 280.0 667 5.0 40%
Jets 129 231 1545 12 12 74 21 220.7 611 4.7 40%
Saints 212 299 2477 11.7 18 79 28 353.9 967 4.6 39%
Seahawks 122 206 1258 10.3 7 55 16 209.7 490 4.0 39%
Chiefs 108 171 1106 10.2 8 52 13 184.3 426 3.9 39%
Redskins 122 217 1528 12.5 7 45 22 254.7 563 4.6 37%
Panthers 152 252 2103 13.8 8 77 35 300.4 769 5.1 37%
Cardinals 121 212 1575 13 7 73 19 262.5 573 4.7 36%
Vikings 116 206 1344 11.6 6 72 19 192.0 486 4.2 36%
Broncos 108 192 1219 11.3 11 52 16 203.2 440 4.1 36%
Rams 125 234 1394 11.2 3 68 16 232.3 493 3.9 35%
Dolphins 119 205 1436 12.1 5 46 20 239.3 500 4.2 35%
Steelers 149 236 1985 13.3 12 95 25 283.6 619 4.2 31%
Defensive Passing Stats Through Week 7
TEAM CMP ATT YDS AVG TD LNG 20+ YDS/GM YAC YAC/CMP % YAC
Cardinals 130 211 1735 13.3 9 95 30 289.2 547 4.2 32%
Lions 165 257 1533 9.3 8 49 14 219.0 505 3.1 33%
Titans 139 214 1452 10.4 11 78 18 242.0 489 3.5 34%
Texans 125 234 1554 12.4 8 56 16 222.0 530 4.2 34%
Seahawks 135 206 1578 11.7 6 68 16 263.0 544 4.0 34%
Redskins 113 196 1431 12.7 5 73 22 238.5 497 4.4 35%
Ravens 109 207 1236 11.3 4 42 15 206.0 440 4.0 36%
Chargers 103 165 1118 10.9 10 43 14 186.3 403 3.9 36%
Steelers 128 228 1317 10.3 8 73 14 188.1 481 3.8 37%
Bears 188 288 2019 10.7 11 79 23 288.4 773 4.1 38%
Chiefs 113 196 1452 12.9 12 67 26 242.0 560 5.0 39%
Vikings 173 263 2072 12 11 79 23 296.0 805 4.7 39%
Giants 130 215 1643 12.6 7 68 23 273.8 642 4.9 39%
Rams 107 192 1424 13.3 13 93 20 237.3 567 5.3 40%
Packers 163 273 2140 13.1 12 72 31 305.7 869 5.3 41%
Colts 166 228 1928 11.6 14 81 25 275.4 811 4.9 42%
Broncos 136 200 1603 11.8 11 84 16 267.2 679 5.0 42%
Dolphins 120 199 1626 13.6 12 99 25 271.0 707 5.9 43%
Falcons 157 245 1941 12.4 10 70 28 277.3 853 5.4 44%
Jets 118 218 1476 12.5 4 73 18 210.9 651 5.5 44%
Cowboys 132 222 1489 11.3 9 45 18 248.2 658 5.0 44%
Bills 140 222 1734 12.4 10 60 25 289.0 767 5.5 44%
49ers 140 243 1689 12.1 9 77 21 281.5 748 5.3 44%
Jaguars 141 230 1470 10.4 10 80 15 210.0 656 4.7 45%
Patriots 154 235 1990 12.9 10 58 37 331.7 890 5.8 45%
Panthers 126 199 1659 13.2 9 84 22 237.0 750 6.0 45%
Buccaneers 141 239 1958 13.9 11 87 25 279.7 889 6.3 45%
Browns 90 169 1123 12.5 8 80 17 187.2 512 5.7 46%
Bengals 112 191 1217 10.9 6 74 14 202.8 558 5.0 46%
Saints 135 255 1754 13 12 65 19 250.6 829 6.1 47%
Raiders 155 292 1955 12.6 12 74 20 279.3 932 6.0 48%
Eagles 110 183 1402 12.7 11 74 19 233.7 828 7.5 59%

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Kerby

    WOW! One of the best of many good posts on this site. It sums up the Pats dink and dunk success perfectly. I sure hope BA reads this so he doesn’t try to run against the Pats and throw deep as I am afraid he will try to do. Our O line does not stack up against thier D line. If Ben tries to throw deep against the Pats, I see sacks and turnovers. With Wallace, Brown and Sanders, the Steelers should be going for YAC with all of their speed. It will also protect Ben. If I was calling plays, I would spread out the Pats and YAC them. Run Mendy only out of passing formations. If we line up with two tight ends a lot my head will explode! Go Stillers!

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